I Walk The Line
This was Johnny Cash’s first number one hit, back in the Spring of 1956.
In fact, it was number one on the country charts for six weeks. It even crossed over and became a Top Twenty hit on the pop charts!
Cash says he wrote it as kind of a pledge of devotion to his new wife (a marriage that lasted just over ten years).
It’s about honesty, trust and love.
It’s also one of the cards in my Psychic Jukebox Deck.
And I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week, for very personal reasons.
My nephew-in-law was killed by a drunk driver a couple years ago, just two months shy of his 21st birthday. The trial for that drunk driver finally started this week, which would have been his 23rd birthday.
It seems like a pretty open-and-shut case to me. And while I won’t go into all the details here, this wasn’t the driver’s first offense. The prosecution has witnesses and blood-alcohol info.
Many of my friends have sent me kind messages, praying that justice will be served.
And while I sat in the courtroom this week, I wondered about Justice. What would that look like in this case?
Nothing will bring my nephew-in-law and his girlfriend back. No amount of money. No amount of punishment for the accused. No amount of anything.
Do I want this driver to rot in jail for the rest of his life? Essentially losing his life for the lives he took?
I’m not proud of it, but part of me really wants him to suffer. He caused so much pain for so many people that he never met. I want him to feel that. I want him to lose his freedom, his hope, his dreams – everything.
And what will that accomplish?
Maybe putting him away will protect the rest of us. He obviously isn’t learning anything about drinking and driving, since he’s already had a DUI. He’s a menace, isn’t he?
My nephew-in-law was not a saint. And neither is this guy, who was his friend.
And while the driver is a little older than my nephew-in-law, he’s still so young.
Is putting him in jail for the rest of his life the answer?
Should he lose everything for making a couple really, stupid mistakes? Is there any hope he can turn his life around and be a productive member of society?
Is essentially taking his life, or at least the bulk of it, is that Justice?
Sadly, I don’t know what the answer is.
And while the specific circumstances of all this may be unique to me, there may be some reading this who are asking the bigger question, too.
What is Justice?
Is it an eye-for-an-eye? Is it some kind of punishment that fits the crime? Is it a second (or third) chance and the hope that the lesson is learned?
Realistically, I don’t think the driver in this case has learned anything. And it would truly be horrible if he were released, and something similar, or worse, happened again.
Sad that someone so young has thrown their life away.
We all make our own decisions – some good, and some not.
And maybe this is just some kind of wake-up call.
Maybe we all should be a little more honest and think about what we’re doing and what we’re saying, and how it will affect others.
Maybe if we all can do that, maybe that’s what Justice is.
Ken Kessler has always been interested in psychic phenomena, and like Mulder on the X-Files, wants to believe. But like most, he tends to look for, and accept, rational explanations. (More)